Dr. Stranger Episode 20 Recap

In the buddy movie Rush Hour, Chris Tucker’s brash American cop tells Jackie Chan’s quiet Hong Kong detective in a condescending way “Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth?” It serves only to make the speaker look like a moron while the listener knowingly cringes at the imbecility on display. Dr. Stranger is full blown deluded Chris Tucker screaming loudly thinking that would overcome the language barrier, while the audience of the drama are all Jackie Chan fully aware there is no language barrier but merely an intellectual chasm. I understood the beginning of DS, and perhaps the last scene of the last episode, but everything in between was pure unabashed nonsense. The drama discussion mostly got hijacked by quackers pushing a one-sided crush while both the spy/medical elements were just simply crackers. Take a drama where details make no sense, throw on a protracted shipping war from one insistent side, the end result is a dish that stinks up the entire middle. So the early fun episodes have disappeared from my memory, and this final episode having the only pairing endings that make sense doesn’t wash away the muddled process.

If I wrote a story that started with two people were in love while living under dangerous circumstances, and then ended it in the following line that said the two soulmates overcame all obstacles and got their happy ending, that would be preferable to slogging through DS just for the good start and finish. If anyone ever wants to watch DS, I’d say watch episodes 1-2 followed immediately by episodes 19-20. Expect a plethora of irrational and illogical hoodoo but in the end the four leads remained true to their feelings and communicated candidly with each other. Surgery Jesus had one final big operation to perform, no surprise there, and the person he had to save being PM Jang was even less shocking. Of course Hoon’s final test of his medical calling was between his Hippocratic Oath and saving the man who minutes before was taking him away to execute him. He’s not Surgery Jesus for nothing, possessed not only of miraculous medical skills but also of a love of mankind greater than even the threat of death can sway. All of episode 20 was spent making this big point, along with a walk down a bridge memory lane, and finally wrapping up everything in a neat tidy bow. Too bad I stopped caring so long ago, otherwise the last few minutes might’ve actually coaxed a touching sniffle out of me.

Episode 20 recap:

PM Jang cackles maniacally and lectures the unconscious President that he should have eliminated PM Jang when he had the chance. It’s his own fault now that he’s laying here weak and defenseless. PM Jang tells the President to lay here sleeping until the upcoming presidential election, after PM Jang is elected once the people get excited by his arranged North-South talks, he’ll then put the President to sleep forever. The President dramatically opens his eyes and pulls off his breathing mask while PM Jang stares in shock.

Hoon and Jae Hee walk in with bodyguards in tow and PM Jang can’t believe he was betrayed. Turns out Hoon asked Jae Hee to adjust the vitals after surgery so PM Jang believes the President is unconscious and he’ll blurt everything out like good villains do.

PM Jang isn’t cowed, right now all the guards work for him and he still has sixty days as the acting president while the President remains recovering from the surgery. He orders his guards to drag Hoon and Jae Hee out. Secretary Kim asks PM Jang to stop now and PM Jang can’t believe what he’s hearing. The effects of the anesthesia clearly fried the President’s brain because he offers to let this matter get resolved quietly, reminding PM Jang that those in politics don’t know who is friend and foe from today to tomorrow. Right now only PM Jang and the President know about what he tried to do.

The President offers to let this go and both Hoon and Jae Hee gape in shock. The President wants to let it go and let PM Jang remain as the prime minister. In turn he wants PM Jang to say “yes” and “I will do as you ask” anytime the President tells him to do something.

Hoon cannot believe the President is letting PM Jang off the hook since he tried to kill him! I know. Jae Hee points out PM Jang may do this again. The President says it’s not up to the them to decide how he’ll deal with PM Jang. The guards restrain Hoon from running over to convince the President to change his mind. PM Jang accepts the offer and wants something in return. He turns to stare at Secretary Kim and the President tells him to let it go, Secretary Kim will be assisting PM Jang in the future as well.

PM Jang asks for Hoon and Jae Hee to be handed over to him and the President agrees. Hoon and Jae Hee are screaming that this wasn’t the original promise but the President says nothing will happen when they are with PM Jang, right? PM Jang smirks and says “of course” while the guards drag Hoon out while Jae Hee glares in impotent rage at PM Jang.

The President is taken away to recover elsewhere while PM Jang walks him out and is still smarting that Secretary Kim dared to counter him back there. We see Comrade Cha hiding behind the hospital corner. Hoon and Jae Hee are locked in the medical conference room and discussing how it was always stupid of them to trust the President. None of them are trustworthy and they never intended to let Hoon and Jae Hee live.

Hoon remembers clearly that the President promised to help them. Hoon told the President what PM Jang planned to do the the President chuckled that even he couldn’t get rid of PM Jang that easily for this because he is still the prime minister with plenty of supporters in the party. Hoon asks the President if he can help protect them at least? The President thinks about it and agrees. Hoon tells Jae Hee that the President agreed to let them go safely.

Jae Hee continues to apologize for her wrong decision years ago when she took Comrade Cha’s hand when he asked if she wanted to see Park Hoon. If she could go back to the past, she would just keep Hoon inside her heart and none of this would have happened. Hoon takes her hand and assures her that things aren’t over yet.

PM Jang walks in and tells Jae Hee to worry that he might pump a bullet into her boyfriend’s brain. He wonders if this was bound to happen when twenty years ago Park Chul and his son survived in North Korea. He wanted them dead but the President allowed them to live. PM Jang thought that they were so tough so he wanted to work with him again but feels like it was all a wasted effort. When he lost the presidential election two years ago, he didn’t want to experience the same disappointment again.

He mocks their attempt to ask the President for help, they clearly didn’t know what kind of person the President was. If they did, they would have had a better shot asking PM Jang to have mercy on them. If they did as PM Jang asked and helped him become President, then asked for mercy, they would have a better shot. Hoon disagrees, even then PM Jang had no intention of letting them live. PM Jang smiles and agrees with what Hoon said. He wants to move killing them to a more private place and orders Hoon to be silent otherwise his mom will die before he does.

Hoon and Jae Hee are led out of the hospital behind PM Jang who gets into the car first and drives off. As the car rounds the corner, suddenly it stops and we see the driver is Comrade Cha who points his gun at PM Jang and tells him to go first before shooting him. Two shots go off and when the guards run to the car, they see PM Jang shot and Comrade Cha has already escaped. Hoon checks that PM Jang’s vitals are still there and orders a OR prepped.

The President hears about the assassination attempt on PM Jang and his injuries are severe. He’s on the phone with Secretary Kim and we don’t hear what he says to Secretary Kim who keeps answering yes.

Chang Yi arrives at the hospital and runs into Dr. Kim and asks if he has seen Hoon. She’s so worried because she can’t reach him and his mom has gone missing as well. Dr. Kim tells her that he’ll call Soo Hyun to find out where he is. Dr. Kim hears from the nurses that the OR is blocked off with guards right now and no one can go inside.

Hoon and Jae Hee wheel the unconscious PM Jang into the OR but Jae Hee stops him to ask that they not save his life. It’s not just them, Hoon’s mom will also be in danger if they save PM Jang. If they delay going into the OR, then PM Jang will die. She reminds him that this man caused Hoon’s dad’s death and tormented his mom into her current state. If they are selfish just this once, they will save everyone.

Jae Hee refuses to let Hoon save PM Jang. She reminds him that his decision to transplant her dad’s kidney into her left him feeling guilt and she doesn’t want him to add to that now by saving PM Jang. She pleads with Hoon and reminds her that their fate would not be this pathetic if it wasn’t for this man. If it wasn’t for PM Jang, the doors to the South Korea embassy would have opened for them that day in Budapest and they would be as happy in life as the people outside this hospital.

Hoon refuses because he wants to be a good doctor. When his dad died, he wanted Hoon and Jae Hee to live happily ever after and he didn’t want Hoon to keep being Comrade Cha’s lap dog. That is why he was willing to die for Hoon! Jae Hee says this patient is not just an ordinary patient, he’s Jang Seok Joo! Hoon became a doctor for the wrong reasons and now that he reunited with Jae Hee again, he doesn’t want to go back to that point. No matter what Jae Hee says, he wants to hold onto his original dream as a doctor and stay true to his dad’s dying wish for him. Hoon takes Jae Hee’s hand and has her touch PM Jang’s still beating heart. It’s the same heart as all the patients they saved together. Jae Hee sighs and follows Hoon into the OR and preps surgery for PM Jang.

PM Jang’s guards arrive and block the OR door while Hoon calls for someone to bring Nurse Min and Dr. Oh to join the surgery. He walks over and Secretary Kim asks how PM Jang’s vitals are? Secretary Kim tells Hoon that even if PM Jang died, no one will hold him accountable, clearly telling him not to save the bastard. We hear his call with the President where the President asked that Hoon operate to save PM Jang since he was supposed to do the heart surgery for him as the outside world believes. The President leaves word that it’s not a bad idea for Hoon to operate on PM Jang. Secretary Kim decodes that for Hoon and explains that the President wants a table death situation. If PM Jang lives, it’s bad for Hoon, and if he dies, then it’s all over for Hoon and he can live the life he wants.

Hoon listens and tells Secretary Kim that his job as a doctor is to save lives and he can’t do more or less than that. Hoon turns around and yells at the unconscious PM Jang that he’s done so much bad things in his life that the only two people who want to save his life are the two doctors in this OR. Secretary Kim confirms that Hoon wants to save PM Jang and Hoon closes the OR door and tells him not to interfere. The other guard points out that if PM Jang lives, all the guards will be in trouble as well. Should he drag Hoon out? Secretary Kim wants to let Hoon do what he believes.

The President watches the surgery on live feed in his room while Hoon sticks his hand in PM Jang’s heart cavity and diagnoses the injuries and gets to work repairing the damage. The President’s aide remarks that Hoon really is amazingly skilled, it wasn’t luck that he is able to do the complex SAVER surgery he did earlier on the President. Surgery Jesus does this all without a scrub nurse or any other doctors in the OR other than his anesthesiologist. The guards anxiously watch from outside and Hoon digs in for the toughest part of the surgery and successfully fishes out the lodged bullets. Secretary Kim points out that everyone seems to be on Hoon’s side now, even though they wanted the surgery to fail when watching Hoon operate the reaction was to hope that he succeeds.

Hoon wheels PM Jang out and his guards take him to the ICU. Secretary Kim figured that PM Jang would die but Hoon saved him so now the flames of politics have reignited again. He hands over the keys to a car waiting outside the hospital for them. Inside are money and passports and he wants them to leave now and be prepared to also leave the country. He promises to take care of Hoon’s mom. Hoon accepts a handshake from Secretary Kim before he and Jae Hee quickly leave.

Soo Hyun gets a call and goes to meet Chang Yi. She reveals that Jae Hee didn’t come from Japan like she told Soo Hyun, plus Hoon’s mom also disappeared. Dr. Kim sees a bunch of guards outside the ICU and wonders who did the surgery for PM Jang? Soo Hyun figures it has to be Hoon and asks if Dr. Kim knows where he went? Dr. Kim saw Hoon leave from the backdoor of the hospital.

Hoon and Jae Hee are rushing to their waiting getaway car which is waiting for them across the bridge. OF COURSE IT HAS TO REQUIRE CROSSING A BRIDGE. Suddenly Hoon is hit by a bullet and he grabs the bridge railing to steady himself. He smiles at Jae Hee and acts like nothing is wrong and tells her to keep going. Jae Hee notices he’s been shot but before they can react, Comrade Cha shows up from behind Hoon. How the fuck did Comrade Cha shoot Hoon in the front when he was behind Hoon this whole time?

Comrade Cha holds up his gun and points it at the escaping lovers. Hoon tells Jae Hee to run while Comrade Cha pulls the trigger. In that moment Jae Hee runs in front of Hoon like she did the last time.

Soo Hyun and Chang Yi are running around and see Hoon holding onto a dangling Jae Hee who has fallen over the bridge. Chang Yi calls the cops for help. Hoon assures Jae Hee to keep holding on while Comrade Cha walks over to remark that this scene looks so familiar to him. Ah yes, just like two years ago in Budapest. He looks around and says no one is here to help Hoon this time.

Hoon calls Comrade Cha a lunatic and he agrees, too bad even if he destroys Hoon and Jae Hee it won’t be enough to release his rage. There was no way he would have let them live. Comrade Cha wants Hoon to live now with the knowledge of losing the person he loves the most because that is the greatest torture to Hoon. Comrade Cha holds the gun to Hoon’s head and tells him to let Jae Hee go and he’ll let Hoon live.

Jae Hee begs Hoon to let her go while Hoon asks if Jae Hee remembers what he said. Letting her go last time was the decision he regretted the most in his life. Wherever she goes, he promised to go with her, right? He tells her not to worry, wherever this river flows he will be going with her. Comrade Cha finishes counting to three and pulls the trigger but Hoon jumps into the bridge before that.

Hoon and Jae Hee fall into the water as Chang Yi and Soo Hyun scream to see it happening in front of their eyes. Comrade Cha shoots himself in the head and dies on the bridge while his final words are glory to North Korea. Chang Yi and Soo Hyun rush on the bridge and look over the railing into the water while crying.

Time jump is here. It’s a year later and the President watches the news report on PM Jang being arrested for corruption and the Blue House will not be involving itself in this matter. His aide asks why the President isn’t helping PM Jang this time and the President says that friend said once that a cop needs to catch criminals and a good doctor is one who saves lives. He’s decided that a politician needs to also do the right thing now.

Chang Yi has a stylish makeover and is now interviewing for store manager. She approaches Dr. Kim and he compliments her on looking very pretty.

Soo Hyun is in surgery with a less experienced surgeon and lectures him to be more careful in stitching. Dr. Eun teases her intern anethesiologist and warns that she’ll yell at him as well if he doesn’t also do better. Dr. Eun and Dr. Oh give each other a knowing look. After the surgery, Dr. Eun asks if Soo Hyun remembers this surgery before? Soo Hyun does, this is the surgery that Hoon did when she met him for the first time. As Dr. Eun and Soo Hyun head into the elevator, talk turns to Dr. Eun expecting a baby and Soo Hyun congratulates her. The baby daddy Dr. Keom gets into the elevator and Soo Hyun congratulates him on becoming a dad soon. The elevator doors open and they see Dr. Kim lecturing younger doctors like he’s the elder now.

The door opens again and Dr. Moon enters and everyone can tell he’s very nervous because of the upcoming ceremony where he officially becomes the president of the hospital. Dr. Eun is a bit saddened that some doctors are not around now as the hospital will grow under Dr. Moon’s direction. Dr. Moon is so nervous that he keeps farting in the elevator leaving everyone else cringing.

Sang Jin introduces Dr. Moon as the new president of Myung Woo Hospital and he gets on stage to call out all the department heads one by one and everyone cringes at his recital speech while Soo Hyun gestures for him to end it now. After the ceremony, Soo Hyun finds Dr. Moon standing before Hoon’s old locker being really sad. Dr. Moon wonders if Hoon is watching this from above? If he saw Dr. Moon become president he would surely be very happy for him. Dr. Moon puts more of Hoon’s favorite snacks in the locker which he has kept for him. Dr. Moon assures Soo Hyun that he will follow her dad’s wishes and run the hospital well.

Soo Hyun goes to stand by the bridge where Hoon and Jae Hee fell. Chang Yi walks up and asks if her hyung went to a better place? Soo Hyun nods because he went with the person he loves. She asks why Chang Yi calls Hoon “hyung” and Chang Yi explains that she always knew he had Jae Hee unni so didn’t want to make it awkward between them. Chang Yi cries and releases a rose into the water.

Nurse Min is leaving the hospital and tells the younger nurse not to feel sad. She’s going to work at the clinic where her husband works and the nurse asks if she’s going to join Dr. Yang? Suddenly Jae Joon walks up and the nurses are shocked to see him.

Soo Hyun rushes to her dad’s VIP hospital room and Dr. Moon keeps her from going inside. He assures her that there is no fighting inside, they are just talking. Chairman Oh asks why Jae Joon is here to apologize? Doesn’t he want an apology from Chairman Oh? Jae Joon says he received Chairman Oh’s apology already. He reveals that he’s working at a friend’s law firm in the US and doesn’t feel like he has the right to be a doctor anymore. When he was working at the law firm, he read a report that Myung Woo has fewer lawsuits and settles in advance with patients when things go wrong. Jae Joon feels his parents in Heaven would be happy to see this change happen. Chairman Oh claims it’s because he’s not running the hospital anymore but Jae Joon knows he tacitly approved it.

As Jae Joon is leaving, Chairman Oh asks what Jae Joon is here to apologize for? Jae Joon wants to apologize to Soo Hyun’s dad. Because of his bad decisions, he hurt Soo Hyun a lot. One day he hopes Soo Hyun and her dad will forgive him.

Jae Joon walks outside and sees Soo Hyun waiting for him. Chairman Oh walks out and tells Jae Joon that he will only give his forgiveness to Soo Hyun’s Han Jae Joon. He sees Dr. Moon lurking there and pulls him inside the hospital room by his ear.

Soo Hyun and Jae Joon talk and she asks whether to call him Sung Hoon from now on? In the past she only saw the pain he inflicted on her and didn’t see the pain he was also feeling. Jae Joon asks if she’s forgiving him? Soo Hyun shakes her head and says she’s the one who needs to ask for forgiveness. Jae Joon points out that both of them need to ask for forgiveness from another person – Dr. Park Hoon. Soo Hyun is shocked and Jae Joon asks if she has time tomorrow? There was too much they never knew about Dr. Park and Dr. Han.

Jae Joon drives Soo Hyun to the countryside and Soo Hyun asks what Jae Joon knows? Jae Joon only recently heard from a friend and initially he didn’t believe it as well. Jae Joon pulls up outside a countryside clinic and can tell Soo Hyun is very sad as she tries to process everything. He points out that the happy cheerful Dr. Park they saw was actually someone who kept his pain deep inside. It was the same way for Dr. Han….no, for Jae Hee.

Soo Hyun feels so apologetic towards them. She didn’t know their past and what they were enduring and she just confessed her feelings to Dr. Park and even asked him to accept her. Jae Joon also feels bad because he used to just think Hoon was a good surgeon and never stopped to wonder how he became this good. Jae Joon tells Soo Hyun to get out of the car so they can go see “that person”.

Hoon pushes a wheelbarrow past an ahjumma who slaps his butt while he complains about her always slapping his butt. The ahjumma points out that guests are here and Hoon looks up to see Soo Hyun and Jae Joon standing there. He greets Quack and then braces himself as she angrily storms over. She saw him fall into the river with her own eyes, how could she let them all be sad like that! Soo Hyun smacks Hoon just like old times while Jae Joon smiles watching them.

Soo Hyun and Jae Joon sit with Hoon who orders lunch for them via his nifty Taobao app on his phone. Jae Joon asks how Hoon survived and hears that someone helped them. We see Secretary Kim visiting Hoon’s mom and taking good care of her in a nice facility. He hands over a stethoscope that he brought at her request. We see she’s wearing the same red bracelet that Hoon made for Jae Hee when they were kids. Hoon’s mom looks at a picture of her and Hoon and smiles.

Hoon hands over to Jae Joon the exact same box that Secretary Kim delivered to his mom. Jae Joon opens it to see a stethoscope and Hoon tells Jae Joon that this suits him more than being a lawyer. Soo Hyun wonders where Jae Hee is and hears from Jae Joon that she’s currently in China.

Soo Hyun and Jae Joon stand on top of the hill watching Hoon standing at the end of a road waiting for Jae Hee. Jae Joon explains that Jae Hee’s identity is unique so it took a long time for her to go through the channels and apply for asylum to come to South Korea. On the day Jae Joon returned to Korea was also the day Jae Hee returned.

A car drives up the road and Jae Hee gets out before running into Hoon’s arms. Soo Hyun asks if Jae Joon still doesn’t believe in destiny? Jae Joon changed his mind, he now believes in destiny. Soo Hyun takes Jae Joon’s hand and they smile at each other.

Hoon and Jae Hee embrace each other tightly as the camera pulls back.

Thoughts of Mine:

So….uhm….happy ending yay? Practically speaking it was a happy ending, none of the four leads died or lost an appendage, and the correct couple pairings ended up together. One can argue that Jae Joon and Soo Hyun was merely alluded to, but it’s as much as the drama can muster since their characters spent the last year apart. I’m grateful this drama avoided tacking on one more plot insanity on top of all its plot insanity already. But I don’t know if that basket of crazy was so overloaded already having one less made any difference. Park Hoon and Jae Hee, the two lovers whose heart beat as one in a love that even fate cannot separate, found their way to a happily ever after in a series of impossible and improbable events that are best accepted as basically a fairy tale happy ending. It’s not that their love for each other was the impractical fairy tale, I’m merely referring to the events of them operating on PM Jang, getting a Secretary Kim ticket out of dodge, then getting cornered by Comrade Cha before falling off the bridge together this time around, and finally getting fished out of the river by their magic fairy godmother and eventually reunited to run a little medical clinic in the countryside.

All of that lame shit masquerading as compelling obstacles are what the drama initially set up the OTP to overcome and arrive at by the end, what with Jae Hee and Hoon’s romantic love story starting off the drama plus their big epic separation. Hoon never once wavered about his feelings for Jae Hee, he fought with her and doubted her intentions but never how he felt about her. She was a difficult character to connect with in the middle sections when she was Seung Hee and purposely written to act in contradictory ways, but as Jae Hee her feelings for Hoon were equally consistent. I wish this drama could have dispensed with the two leads saying things they didn’t mean or doing things on purpose to help each other, but aside from that the romantic underpinnings of the OTP was at least the one true thread that traveled through the entire drama.

In a sad state of K-drama quality, DS ended its run number 1 in the competition, a spot it occupied from its first episode to last. Big Man kept increasing in ratings but never got close while Triangle is only now starting to gain traction but DS is already done with its pointless victory lap. I want to applaud the gumption of this drama to bring back Comrade Cha for the sole purpose of shooting people, first PM Jang through the chest rather than the brain and thereby give Surgery Jesus the chance to resurrect him, and secondly to direct a magically curving bullet into Hoon’s belly fired from behind Hoon. Bravo to his character for being THE most random and whatever the fuck presence in this drama the whole way through. I should have expected it when he dragged Hoon to the torture medical facility to train him. It was sad to see him go by way of suicide, though I suppose that might be the only way to actually kill him.

Much as I like to forget all about the interminable presidential heart surgery assassination plot, the way it ended was still beyond any degree of crap I could have envisioned. I get that the President is just a different wolf than PM Jang and was bound to betray his promise to Hoon, but for him to actually offer a blase “let’s just forget about it” to PM Jang’s attempt to off him was ridiculous to the max. No amount of trying to rationalize it will make sense other than to leave PM Jang around for Comrade Cha to shoot and thereby present the choice for Hoon to operate on his nemesis or let him die. That’s it. That’s pretty much the entire point of all those surgery battles, none of which left an impression, and all of which was supposed to be so moving that Hoon always did the right thing in the end. Screw that, sometimes he did something so “principled” but absolutely moronic in the context of putting his own life in danger. I’m pretty sure the Hippocratic Oath has a trap door escape clause whereby a doctor will be forgiven for not abiding by it in exigent circumstances like an imminent bullet to the brain.

Most of the time in this drama Soo Hyun had the better written character, less pure love interest or mysterious spy, but a woman with a better fleshed out personality. The problem was her story line with Jae Joon’s revenge using her and her daddy-mommy issues was always the secondary plot, with the main plot being PM Jang’s heart surgery coup that only ever involved Hoon, Jae Hee, and sometimes Jae Joon. She was never involved in the main plot, which made her presence in this drama increasingly obsolete regardless of how her character connected with the audience. In the end she felt like the main lead in her own side story but I didn’t sign up for a drama to have a distracting side story that cut into the main story focus. Jae Joon’s revenge limped to a conclusion as well, which wasn’t surprising because I just didn’t see his character stooping to the level of the evildoers just to win at all costs. But his story came to the forefront much too late, and after it was done he was unceremonious shunted off screen only to be brought back as the exposition fairy in the last fifteen minutes. It was hilarious that Park Hae Jin basically was answering all the questions Soo Hyun (i.e the stand in for the viewers) had about what happened to Hoon and Jae Hee just to give him words to say, and once Soo Hyun directly asked Hoon where Jae Hee was and Jae Joon answered that she was in China. LOL epic communication randomness!

It was amusing that only then did Soo Hyun find out that an entire CRAZY presidential assassination conspiracy was happening all around her which embroiled Hoon and Jae Hee. It’s like she’s babbling on to her two best friends about how the guy she likes in band camp is suddenly sending mixed signals, all the while those two friends are privately battling with stage four cancer. I don’t think she did anything wrong in falling for Hoon, he flirted with her a lot while Jae Joon spent those episodes being an unsupportive ass, so the choice was a no brainer. The failure of this drama was having her fall for hard, so fast, and so oblivious to everything around her while she was mooning and crying over her unrequited love. She could have liked Hoon but gotten over it all in one quick episode or two, and then had a more express role in helping Hoon and Jae Hee towards their happy ending.

I won’t even bother talking about the bajillion elements that made no logical sense in this drama, or were dropped and never addressed or explained. That would be a college dissertation on its own, and worth nobody’s time to write or read. It was mostly caused by characters shuffled offscreen when their use was done, and brought back onscreen when needed to drive a certain plot point forward. The genre mashup of spy, politics, medical, and romance was simply too much for the screenwriter to handle, and coupled with the complaints and fan feedback from certain segments of the audience, the ensuing crap shoot rendered it increasingly more and more bizarre. Did I love anything about it? Sure I did. Initially I loved how it dared to aim for a lot and was unabashedly proud of being far-fetched. I loved the romance between Jae Hee and Hoon in the first few episodes, their sweet childhood beginnings growing into a quiet love that was lovely in their certainty towards each other.

I felt it and all I needed to see was that they would stay true to each other through the difficult process of reaching their happy ending. I never realized the process would derail so spectacularly that even their happy ending today would leave me feeling indifferent and exhausted. If viewers are unhappy with the drama because it was repetitive and illogical, then I’m right there with everyone. If the unhappiness stems from Hoon loving Jae Hee from beginning to end and never falling for Soo Hyun back, then that’s just the anger of a wishful mind insisting that certain viewer preference trumps character consistency and emotions. This was the story of Park Hoon, a doctor from North Korea who was a stranger in a strange land no matter where he ended up, and the only safe haven in his entire life was in the arms of one woman named Jae Hee who gave his life purpose and ignited his dreams. At least Park Hoon didn’t suffer for nothing, he got his happy ending and I’ll wish him well in running that little clinic in the countryside.

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Dr. Stranger Episode 20 Recap — 49 Comments

  1. Yessss!!!! Finally happy ending~~~ my ship sail in glorious manner. Hehhe…thank you so much koala for your absolute patience in recapping this crazy ride. Well at least this time the ship I voted for sail till the end. Now I can happily bury this crazy ride without any feeling of dissatisfaction.

  2. I loved the last few minutes. I sorta skipped scenes between ep 3-20, but the last few minutes of ep 20, in addition to ep 1 and 2, reminded me of what the drama could have been.

    The drama’s main problem was the so-called obstacles, which were often recycled, and made to seem like they held importance, but ultimately was easily resolved with no dire consequences. In the end, I lost interest as a viewer because i knew the hero would somehow lamely weedle out of the situation, no matter how illogical, so there was no suspense or tension at all.

    I remember it was ep 9, I think (or 10), which was basically having the main leads trying to find the others around the hospital. The drama often had useless scenes, I felt, which they tried to pretend was NOT screen-filler.

    In my opinion, the drama should have had a higher spy-medical ratio cause ep 1 and 2 were awesome.

    Also, at the end when JH ran towards PH, it reminded me of inspiring generation. Just thought I’d mention that.

  3. I totally quit watching at ep9, but have been following the recaps.

    This is without a doubt the most insanely written k-drama I have ever seen. NOTHING made any sense – especially all the stupid shipping wars by fans who were mostly not even aware that there was supposed to be an actual plot in this show. I think the saddest part is that as bad as it was, it managed to pull decent ratings, which gives me concerns about the IQ level in Korea 😛

    In most other shows that I did not particularly like I could point to certain flaws or dislikes. But this one just had such a wide and deep range of flaws that it is almost impossible to describe them all, even briefly.

    It is not often I put a writer on my list of “never again”, but that list has now grown to two.

    • I totally agree wt u. this whole drama is just chaotic! twisting and turning in every direction, and the plot is just so messy. i couldn’t get what was the whole thing about, and who the hell carry out surgery competitions?! ugh, this drama is such a disappointment!

  4. It’s over guys! And I got the ending that I wanted! The only good thing Cha did was attack PM Jang. just couldn’t stand the dude no more. The president is just as bad as him. Well, it has been a crazy ride for 10 weeks. But I absolutely loved the ending. I was really hoping for Jae Joon, Hoon, and JAe Hee to return to the hospital for some reason. But, I’m still find with the ending we got. At least we know that Hoon and Jae Hee could live happily together in peace.

  5. I don’t think agent Cha didn’t killed himself, I think he was shot by secretary Kim. At the end of the drama, Park Joon is asked by Jae Joo “what happened after you fall in the water?” and he said “someone help me” and the next image is secretary Kim with his mother, so I think secretary Kim was there, like he was in Budapest and he shot Cha.

  6. As this basket case of drama wraps up, we finally find solace that it at least have kept one figment of its premise true in the end from its myriad of inconsistencies and schizophrenic excuses of a plot. As Hoon and Jaehee finally found one another, the slightest of narrative justice has been served. If I’m to use a metaphor, I’m tempted to say that it’s been like a rollercoaster ride except this particular attraction features none of the loops and all that crazy jolting and fun stuff. It’s in fact a one steep climb on one end and a deep dive towards the abyss only to shoot up once more in the other end. The best part of the story and what continues to be its saving grace has always been its premiere episodes and to a lesser extent the final two. It was crazy at the beginning and its overall tone was jarring, but it was entertaining and had all the landmarks of great directing, acting, and cinematography. It was unfortunately downhill from then on forward, as the plot hits a snag on its spy conspiracy and continued to plod along with questions after questions and one surgery competition after another. It never found its inner Zen among its circle of romance, mystery, and medical candor, in fact in its attempt to cater to all three, it ended up being stuck on a quagmire of uncertainty to which direction to go.

    It was aperient to know that the production have openly admitted that they have re-wrote the script twice in this drama—once before its initial casting and second halfway through to address the problems. Except that they’ve probably only made it worse by deviating to the intended narrative furthermore. The first instance was understandable since producing a drama is a livelihood after all and they live and die by the ratings, and to put it bluntly, pure medical drama has not been a good investment lately, and romance and melodrama continues to be the tried and tested way to pad those numbers. The second instance was just as forgivable since the audience is in dire need of enlightenment as they continued to muddle the spy end of the plot and the frustration only grew and the ratings suffered. But in an attempt to plug holes to a sinking raft, the writing became oblivious to the other more pressing problem—it has lost focus on what its thesis is all about. Be it from the incessant fan pressuring, bickering, and highly toxic mud-slinging on the sidelines, the show thought that going back to its medical roots was the answer. The show shed scenes for the respective shipping end and even off a once prominent character (cough*Comrade Cha*cough*), but its medical aspect did not improve at all, in fact it’s still back on the same recycled surgery competition formula which accomplishes nothing but raise eyebrows and generate ridicule from the fans.

    Personally, I wouldn’t mind if this drama had ever decided to be straight-up medical and stuck to that particular genre, though truth be told, I won’t even bother watching it if it were to be the case. But, when they decided to refurnish it as a spy-romance-melo-medical-throw-all-your-kitchen-utensils-in-one and sent out its respective casting offers to Lee Jong Suk, Park Min Young, Park Hae Jin, and Kang So Ra, then by all the Drama Gods, they should have remained true to it from beginning to end. The promising premiere together with its moving (if not cheesy) thesis should have been given its proper due of integrity and not to be flip-flopped later on in the succeeding narrative. It devolved into a revolving door of a series of surgery competition for the day, to revenge subplot behind another family drama sub-subplot, at the backdrop of a greater spy plot and political conspiracy, all the while the thesis hid in the furthest cobwebbed corner waiting for the moment to be found again.

    If I’m to plot a graph for this show, I would find that episodes 1 and 2 were the highest point of the curve, while on a steady decrease onwards, and then by episode 10 plummeted to its lowest point, for it only to be resuscitated back on episode 19 and be tied up by episode 20. To which comes to no surprise, are the episodes most relevant and which actually tackled the given thesis. It began with all the great promises of simpatico, love, and intrigues, but in hindsight perhaps the show never had a sustainable plot to begin with? As much as Jae Joon and Soo Hyun were played by charismatic actors, they however never truly held any weight to the show, aside from being glorified plot devices to throw in as random conflicts for the OTP. That which isn’t really uncommon in your typical k-drama story telling sense, as they are in fact key for the main characters to grow and the story to unfold. But I’ve always felt that they consumed too much screen time for their respective conflicts which really were off-base and had little to do with the story—which ultimately orbits around Hoon, the Stranger, and his quest to finding meaning in becoming a doctor in a strange land, and the lover of the woman that inspires him and he cannot live without. As they are, the two respective couples were primed to be told into two different stories and genres, but somehow got lost along their journey and banded up together to create a haphazard drama that left everybody reeling and scratching and pulling their hairs. That which is a shame, as cramming them into one story only served to the detriment of each character’s development and ultimately a waste for the actors’ talents.

    The jury is still out however on the efficacy of the decision to release this one hot pile of mashed delicacy that only the staunchest of stomach and sanity can ever digest, into a featured 120 minute of unadulterated theatrical madness. Curiously, by every episode since that announcement, my interest grew as my interest in what is presented on-screen plunges, and I’m beginning to doubt my own better judgment, that perhaps, just maybe, movie has been the better format for this drama all along. Imagine cutting all that crap in the middle of Dr. Stranger and connecting all the important parts from the outlying episodes and supplanting it with more information (answers) that should have been found within this show’s cour, we might just have ourselves a superior drama. For whatever its worth, I just wasted approximately 16 hours of my life into it, another hour and a half probably won’t hurt, would it?

    • “It was aperient to know that the production have openly admitted that they have re-wrote the script twice in this drama […]”

      Thanks, learned a new word today /ESL. Now pardon me whilst I contemplate aperient dramas to expurgate my system of this monstrosity. Pray does any complaisant creature have any capital recommendations?

      1.having a mild purgative or laxative effect.

      jk. Anyway, thanks for the review koala. I fully agree with you. This has to be the worst drama of the year (plz, 2014, no more). Sorry for Jong-seok and Hae-jin.

      • For the distinguished palate of someone with a captious standards for K-drama consumption, I recommend Joseon Gunman for its rustic yet dangerously edgy appeal.

        But if you are clamoring for immediate recompense for your famished K-drama state, then Fated To Love You (Korean) will have the most expedient effect with its copious amounts of cackle.


  7. It over WHOOOOO!!!!

    I was oddly compelled to finish this drama IDK why- trainwreck syndrome maybe? But I’m so glad it’s finished and from now on I will be avoiding this writer’s work.

    • YAYYYYYYY! *throws confetti* I didn’t care if she lived or died in Gaksital, her character was blah, but in Age of Feeling I was bawling when she died. Guh, so pointless! Finally she gets her man, the man who has only ever loved her through 20 episodes. Hurrah!

      • She survived in Five Fingers but lost her man (just like that drama lost any semblance of sense by the end). So this is definitely the end of the curse! :p

  8. Koala, thank you so much for all your recaps of Doctor Stranger – no matter how crazy the story got, you were still riding the brain dead train all the way to the end and for that I am very grateful. Your blog was the saving grace for a lot of the DS viewers, especially viewers of the HoonHee shippers.

    Your blog was the only one on the internet that actually supported the HoonHee couple because you actually follow the narrative of the storyline of “Two Hearts Beating As One That Even Fate Cannot Separate” instead of pushing for the other ship like almost all the other bloggers/writers because they didn’t like the actress JSY or prefer the other actress. All the HoonHee shippers are forever grateful to you for standing up for them until the end.

    I love episode 20 because I’m grateful to the writer for not killing off Jae Hee and for giving both Hoon and Jae Hee their happy ending at last and staying true to the drama tagline. I’m really sad that the writer butchered such a great story that had so much promised in the beginning but sputtered and chugged to a sad end because of the batshit craziness that is the quacker fan base.

    Thank you for standing by the drama and for your funny uncensored reviews of it. I’m going to miss reading your recaps of DS but will be looking forward to your recaps of the other dramas.

  9. HoonHee for the win… Omo… The justice divine exists.

    Congratulations to all that we were always in the right ship… And for others, better luck next time xDDDDD!

  10. I’m glad I didn’t watch this then, but I popped by to check whether Jin Se Yeon’s girl ends up alive!

  11. Too bad, i wasted my time when watching this drama. Lmao, the film is only about fated love, and the writer failed to add medical fields , politics and spy that what i mainly concerned about. In my view, the plot is made up a mystery, danger and pain, but actually it’s simple and loose. Nonsense.
    Rate 4/10

  12. I am forever grateful to you my dear Ms. Koala for saving me 20 hours of my life that I would not be able to get back. I have perused your recaps for the past 10 weeks and learned enought to stay clear of this one and it seems that was the best choice. Thanks for taking the hit and warning us.

  13. Never I watch the drama that fails so spectacularly on its own game. They want medical, spy, thriller, romance but unfortunately they fail to create logical and coherent plot with easy-to-connect characters. I feel my brain is frozen while watching this drama.
    Lee Jong Suk, I love you and Hoon is adorable but the drama is epic fail!!

  14. What i find curiously strange is with all the hight standards of “Knetz” demaind quality actor and quality acting. The strangeness of this drama still achieved double digit ratings.

  15. Am I the only one who was totally underwhelmed by Jae Hee’s acting? The first 5 episodes blew us away with the depth of Hoon’s love for Jae Hee but then… There were the other 15 episodes. Not once did I feel that Jae Hee loved Hoon sincerely. Even when she was leading him on she just looked disgruntled, not sad. And when she FINALLY tells him the truth… why are her mannerisms the same as when she is lying?!

    I wasn’t on board either ship I just wanted to see where this will end up but…

    Quack’s reunion with Hoon was more emotional than Jae Hee’s!! What gives? I am very under whelmed by this actress she did not do a good job portraying Jae Hee IMHO. There was no sincerity.

    • i agree with you. she’s the main reason i stopped watching bridal mask. then i tried inspiring generation… and also stopped watching. here i gave a chance thinking kang sora was the lead. i think jin se yeon is acting what she thinks some expression would look like, not emoting it truly. idk. i give her props for trying tho.

      between her and suzy, i have a hard time figuring out who i like better.

  16. i don’t mind all the unrealistic or unreasonable things that happened in the finale episodes… but i wish jae hee could have worn another dress or outfit in the last scene.. because wasn’t that the same dress she wore at the bridge before she and park hoon fell into the water? xD

    i’m really really glad about the ending though!! i cried so much T_T i was irritated are they still alive or not?… the ending is beautiful… and there were some memorable scenes … jae hee’s and hoon’s dialogue before saving the prime minister… the prime minister getting mad at that guy who worked for him for 20+ years.. and the very last scene of episode 20…

    if the writer just could have put as much effort into the show as he did now… hope jong suk wins something for this drama.. also jin se yeon.. for the most part i liked her acting…she lacks in some things but she can learn.. i feel a bit bad for the north korean comrade… and although i disliked the prime minister a lot, without his great acting the finale episodes wouldn’t have been as good as they were… i also hope jong suk picks a better project next time.. same goes for park hae jin.. and maybe kang sora, but i don’t really care about her now.. lol..^^

    • Jae Hee did wear two different dresses – the first was a black and white floral dress with black cap sleeves. The 2nd dress was a ivory dress with mostly ivory and black florals running down the sides of the dress. They look kind of the same but are two different dresses. Wish they had a chosen different color too to distinguish the dresses.

  17. i’m really really glad about the ending… cried so much T_T there were several memorable scenes in these finale episodes… especially jae hee’s and hoon’s discussion before they saved the prime minister and the very last scene in this episode… i don’t mind all the unreasonable things that happened except that they could have made jae hee wear a different dress in the last scene.. lol..

    if the writer just could have put as much effort into the show as he did now… hope jong suk wins something for this drama.. also jin se yeon.. for the most part i liked her acting…she lacks in some things but she can learn.. i feel a bit bad for the north korean comrade… and although i disliked the prime minister a lot, without his great acting the finale episodes wouldn’t have been as good as they were… i also hope jong suk picks a better project next time.. same goes for park hae jin.. and yeah maybe kang sora too..

  18. woah.. you really wrote a good review there… thanks koala for recapping this drama until the end… beautiful analysis…

  19. I loved the ending. For a second, I thought they were really dead. I am so glad Jae Joon and Soo Hyun ended up together. I’m happy, that is all I wanted.

  20. I’m happy just for the fact that Dr. Stranger is done so everybody can move on including those quack shippers who may lament on their unwanted but destined shipwreck.

    Salute to you, Koala. Your recaps and reviews are highly appreciated. Now I finally found a credible blog for recommended dramas so that I won’t waste time browsing through a long list. I’ve been following your recommendations to watch Chris Wu’s dramas, King Flower and Rock n Road. And I once again cannot deny you have a great taste of what is decent and whatnot with drama. This guy is an excellent actor who can pull out all the charisma in the roles he plays. I enjoy just watching him on the screen. Thanks for sharing your precious opinions.

  21. I’m happy that the writer stayed true to the thesis of the drama and brought back the focus of the story to some degree in the last two at least! Better late than never. Also, I’m still new to kdrama and when I saw this drama I didn’t think JSY was that bad as some people make her out to be. I mean yes there were moments but overall it was not terrible. I know that female leads to outshine which JSY didn’t do in this case but I think that it is due to so many things: like there was already prejudice against her acting, kang sora being a good actress, the script and the change made in the middle! I think the reason why Hyun was more lovable was because of the way the character was written. It had less ambiguity and people knew she was good and pure so we. Can root for her! This might be a dangerous thing to post haha, but I liked JSY in her dual role. It wasn’t the best but not the worst either!

  22. Well, thanks for the recap.I didn’t finish this drama. I just read the last two recaps.Firstly, I’m going to save the 20 episodes on my hard drive, but since I already know the ending is like this. What’s the hell is it? Disappointing ending! Hate that I spent my 18 hours just to get an ending like this! Really hate this drama a lot, I mean the story. Guess I’ve to delete those 18 videos. Jajeuuuunggnaaaa jinjaaaa…..!!!!

    I just express my thought, please ignore this message if you don’t like it.

    • i agree. the plot was just so horrible! the actors and actresses all had potential to act well, but with a bad storyline they can’t make the story come to life.

      i like my cute lee jong suk better. hope his next project is a rom com.

      one thing tho– now i’m a fan of kang sora! liked her in Sunny, and love her in this drama.

  23. I personally liked (not loved) this drama. I think all the twist and turns just made the drama more interesting. It could have been better though especially in the last few episodes it lacked more explanation and suspense I don’t know how to explain it but it just lacked something. Let me say one thing I didn’t like that Park Hoon stayed with Song Jae Hee I couldn’t feel the chemistry between them don’t get me wrong her acting was good but I didn’t like her as the main female lead it is the first time in a drama that I didn’t like the female lead. I didn’t feel attached to her character at all. Through the whole drama I wished that they didn’t end up together and yes I wished that Park Hoon would end up with Quack (Dr. Oh) every scene with them together made me laugh and cry. Of course she also had flaws in her character one of them being that she was completely ignorant to what was happening around here and being depressed that Park Hoon didn’t like her back I was like get over it and try to get him to love you. If you’re one of these people who are like ” what are you talking about Song Jae Hee and Park Hoon were a great couple because they went through so much together they deserved to have a happen ending ” just because she is the female lead you don’t have to force yourself to like her. I didn’t see her emotions for him she seemed completely robotic in showing her feelings and she didn’t have a lot of scenes with Park Hoon for me to like them as a couple and till the last episode I just couldn’t get a grasp of her character. I think Park Hoon’s love for her was guilt and he let her push him around and deceive him and there was no questions asked and I felt that he forced himself to like the new Song Jae Hee with the excuse of She’s my ” true love”. But over all good drama I kinda liked the ending because Park Hoon ended up happy. I give Doctor Stranger 4/5 stars.

  24. *smh*

    This drama was so… strange. Dr. Stranger, strangely fitting title.

    I stopped watching after a certain point and I’d rather opt for reruns of I Hear Your Voice.

  25. Hallelujah! This drama has finally ended and giving way for most likely a WAYYYY better drama. The ending was happy, good, but this drama still sucks. The middle was ruined, and nothing can ever bring it back.
    And I just want to say, what did I say about HoonHee? It was obvious from the beginning how it was SUPPOSED to be, and the only LOGICAL way to end this. The writer just had to mess everything up by trying to cater to fangirl shippers. The way the story COULD’VE been would’ve probably been really memorable, but… ok whatever, no use wasting time talking about a lost cause. -___-
    Now that it’s over, I’ll go ahead and fast forward through the rest of the episodes and then delete this train wreck from my computer.
    I look forward to Temptation 🙂

  26. I LOVE HOONHEE 😀 the drama ended. one thing that i regret is that the writer did not develop more on Jae Hee character. so that is why some people cant understand like we do(hearbeaters :D)

  27. To be honest, I’m glad this drama ended. Like most of the commentors here I was intrigued by this drama the very first 3 episodes but afterwards it just got completely messy. For one, I saw a lack of chemistry between Jae Hee and Hoon, ( I don’t know if it was the actors chemistry or not) but it always felt one-sided to me with Hoon always expressing more of the emotions. The second Flaw was the run on plot of the minister trying to create a competition of two medical teams at the hospital. It was getting annoying to me and the wavering between firing hoon and hiring Hoon seemed redundant. To be honest the only characters that were sensible to me were Quack and Jae Joon who at first didn’t seem like a couple but I did see them have more chemistry than Jae Joon and Quack. I honestly do not like to complain about K-Dramas but this by far was one of worst written dramas I’ve ever seen. The problem is it had some potential but be riveting and keep you on the edge of your seats but it was too messy. Way too messy.

  28. Am i the only one not happy w’ the ending lol Xp i loved this drama soooo much so i had great expectations for the ending TT^TT I wanted them to show us how they survived After Hon and Jae hee fill in the rever! I knew that the secretery helped them after reading the comments above lol but still the ending left me lost! What happened to his mom exactly i mean did he got her back or still separated? Uhh i miss the first episodes they were so good :””< im just lol heartbroken XD everyone saying that they loved the ending because it was happy & such but i wanted a happy LOGICAL ending TT^TT gonna miss this drama so much tho :''< it was twisted and confusing at first but things got revealed after that thank god Xp

  29. well at least i understand your review here. it will be ridiculous if hoon suddenly fall for so hyun, im not a shipper. maybe what i hate more is the writer and director for being swayed for the fans…

  30. While I get the analogy using Rush Hour, I think the actual point of the scene fits better with the writer’s intentions. Cris Tucker’s character was purposely trying to illicit a response from Jackie Chan’s character out of frustration. I believe the writer(s) of this show purposely threw in the craziest plot twists and fake-outs, not because they underestimated the viewers intelligence, nor do I think they are unintelligent, but rather to evoke a strong response (good or bad). I think that was their main focus rather than writing a story with a message (or point) or character development.

  31. In spite of a logical ending ( Hoon Hee ) … The show ( that had such great promise) had lost it’s magic and the ending was somewhat dampened. I totally agree the worthy episodes of Doctor Strange was 1,2,19,20. The rest of the 16 episodes should have been called Dr Quack instead. I have never watched Korean drama that has the 2nd lead hogging the screen time as much as Soo Hyun’s character. I can guarantee this since I timed it:) Thank you Ms Koala for your reviews and telling it as it is…your recaps kept me grounded in my perception of DS…. at least I knew my opinions were not unique.

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